Poor Caitlyn Jenner. How quickly the accolades change to attacks, all because of a few poorly chosen words.
In case you haven’t heard, Jenner was honored last night at the 25th Annual Glamour Women of the Year Awards. In a Buzzfeed interview, Jenner stated: “The hardest part about being a woman is figuring out what to wear.”
Jenner said a lot of other things too, none of which will be remembered. Also left out of the discussion will be an important part of the interviewer’s question, the two words “FOR YOU.”
Jenner did not say that fashion was the hardest part of being a woman for every woman. I doubt it makes the top ten for most of us. I work at home and my everyday wardrobe is whatever nightgown I slept in. I just got back from taking my daughter to work and for that I slipped into a stretchy skirt from Wal-Mart, a Georgetown t-shirt, and the pair of my son’s Crocs that were nearest to the door. And no bra. But I can do that because there are no paparazzi lurking in my bushes. Caitlyn Jenner has to look good all the time or face the consequences on the cover of the National Enquirer the next day. I could see how that would be very hard.
Caitlyn Jenner will never suffer through a difficult pregnancy, or have to worry about finding quality childcare, or be forced to abandon a cherished career to stay home with kids. Jenner won’t spend long days with a house full of small children, or be a single mother living on welfare while looking for a minimum wage job, or even put up with monthly cramps and mood swings. Starting to live as a woman at the age of 65, and as a wealthy and famous woman at that, means Jenner will miss out on a lot of the difficulties experienced by most women.
So let’s cut Jenner a little slack and realize that this is a question that each woman might answer differently, depending on her stage of life and her experience. I almost hesitate to even answer the question, since I don’t want to imply that I believe being a woman is uniquely difficult, or somehow harder than being a man. Personally, I think life is hard, no matter your gender.
But as I reflected on the question, I decided that FOR ME, the hardest part of being a woman is living up to societal expectations: the pressure to be a perfect mother, to seek personal fulfillment through a career, to take care of everyone and everything, and to be thin–but not TOO thin!–while doing it.
Of course, while I won’t presume to speak for them, men face daunting societal pressures as well, and some of those pressures may seem to conflict with one another: to support a family financially and succeed in a career while spending more time with the kids, to be strong but sensitive, to be a gentleman while also treating women as equals.
How would YOU answer the question? What is the hardest part of being a woman (or a man, if you happen to be one!) for you?